The Theosophical Society in America

Two Paradoxes of Reality: A Revelation

By Jon L. Ross

Originally printed in the MAY-JUNE 2005 issue of Quest magazine. 
Citation: Ross, Jon L. "Two Paradoxes of Reality: A Revelation." Quest  93.3 (MAY-JUNE 2005):106-107

ross"The tree is me." I read this statement in a document years ago. My first reaction was: How could that be? The tree is over there and I am over here. We are completely separate and distinct from each other.

For several days, as I went about my daily routine, the phrase "The tree is me" would not leave my mind. Then one day while I was in the train station on my way to the office, a hand touched me on the right shoulder. I looked around—nobody was standing near me. Instantly, a peaceful feeling spread throughout my body. I was overcome with joy. I felt that this feeling must be similar to "the rapture" of which people speak—I truly believe that I was "touched by an angel."

As I walked out into the bright sunshine, I suddenly knew—yes, the tree is a part of me, a part of my concept of reality! The building across the street is also! The bridge spanning the river is in my reality! So is the person coming toward me, and the traffic coming and going! The entire world, as I perceive it and give meaning to it, constitutes my world—my conception of reality. The world is to me what I make it to be. During the remainder of my walk to work, I felt as if I were walking several inches above the sidewalk.

A paradox of reality is that what is real is at the same time not real; each and every one of us creates our own view of reality. Because we create it, it is a personal view of reality—our view that is different from a reality that already exists. Each of us customizes our own concept of what is real through our individual thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and subsequent actions. Our actions are shaped by our current and past perceptions and experiences. And most of us will spend our lives depicting and/or defending the "real world" we ourselves have invented or adopted. This is not a problem until we insist that the individualized world we perceive is the right or the true reality. This need to claim the contents of our self-created reality as the only right and true reality is the biggest hurdle we humans must overcome to live in harmony.

In my current view of reality (which changes with the acquisition of additional knowledge, experience, and understanding), a Supreme Entity consisting of unconditional Love (God) created the entire universe and everything in it. In the process, we humans evolved into thinking beings that can interpret the universe as we desire. In effect, I believe that every person living on the planet creates his or her own conception of reality. And amid all these individual views of reality there is another reality that we cannot know, do not know, or know only partially.

Another paradox of reality is that though our own personal view of reality affects all our relationships with others—either positively or negatively—it is at the same time a very powerful influence on our personal growth or decline.

In accepting that our reality is self-created, we realize that none of us knows how much of it is the "true reality." This being so, we can therefore create any reality we desire. Why not create a personal reality that brings peace and harmony to our life? We have total control over how we interpret the world we live in. We may not control how other people treat us and feel about us, but we do control how we perceive and respond to whatever life brings our way.

Since, your thoughts, beliefs, and actions determine your concept of what is real, the following are some things you can do to help change your reality and live the life you truly want to live.

Create a reality that gives you peace and comfort in lieu of fear and anger . Change your thoughts about why you turned out the way you did. Believe that your mother, father, guardian, or anyone who has caused you to feel pain and suffering (emotional or physical) did the best he or she could do within his or her understanding of what is real. You are not bound to your current view of reality. It can grow with you. It will change as your thoughts/beliefs change. Within your view of how things are lies the power you need to mold and shape the type of person you want to be.

Try not to project the problems in your life onto others. When you do, your anger or resentment will let the person whom you perceive as having caused your problem control a good portion of your thought processes, thereby prolonging the suffering. You are the captain of your ship. You have the power to decide when and where it will take you. That is not to say that life is easy or fair. But you can and should take responsibility for your perception of reality.

It absolutely matters what you believe. Do you know what you believe? What your concept of reality is? Think about it. Compile a list on paper if necessary. Begin your list with the words "I believe." When you are finished with the list of your beliefs, which is the foundation of your perceived reality, take ownership of this world you have created. Examine it—you don’t need to be directly touched by an angel to examine your concept of reality. After reviewing your list, ask yourself: Is there another belief system, another reality that I can create that will give me more joy in life? If yes, then create it. How? Be open to the world around you. Keep revising your list of beliefs and live life enthusiastically.


Jon L. Ross received his M.A. in adult education from Northern Illinois University. Now retired, he lives in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. He has been a member of the Society for three years. This is his first contribution to Quest.